(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE   MIND                       77

Huang or Major Li is inhuman and therefore no law at all.
Chinese justice is an art, not a science.

Jespersen, in his well-known book, The Growth and Structure
of English, once referred to the masculine qualities of the English
language by pointing to its love of economy, common sense
and forcefulness. Without wishing to contradict so great an
authority oji the English language, I beg to differ on a point
which concerns the sexes. Common sense and the practical
mind are characteristics of women rather than of men, who
are more liable to take their feet off the ground and soar to
impossible heights. The Chinese language and grammar show
this femininity exactly because the language, in its form, syntax
and vocabulary, reveals an extreme simplicity of thinking,
concreteness of imagery and economy of syntactical relation-
ships.

This simplicity is best illustrated from pidgin, which is
English meat with Chinese bones, as we say in China. There
is no reason why a sentence like "He come, you no come; you
come, he no come" should not be considered as clear as the
more roundabout "You needn't come, if he comes, and he
.needn't come, if you come." In fact, this simplicity makes for
clarity of expression. Moon, in Dean's English, quotes an English
Somerset farmer as testifying before the judge: "He'd a stick,
and he'd a stick, and he licked he, and he licked he; if he licked
he as hard as he licked he, he'd a killed he, and not he he,"
and this seems to me a much more sensible way of talking than
one with the Germanic case-distinctions. For according to the
Chinese, the difference between "I lick he" and "he lick I" is
perfectly clear without the subjective-accusative complex, and
the adding of the third person singular ending "s" is as super-
fluous as is already proved to be in the past tense (I had, he
had; I went, he went). Actually lots of people are saying "us
girls" and "them things" without ever being misunderstood
or losing anything except a meaningless "class" which has
nothing to do with the beauty of expression. I have great hope
that English and American professors will one day bravely
and respectably pronounce a "he don't" in the classrooms and
that the English language may one day become as sensible
and clear as the Chinese, through the influence of pidgin.